This latest entry in the Zelda series once again shakes up the gameplay that fans are used to. However, does exploring the expansive lands of Hyrule make for a worthwhile journey? Of course it does so let's boot up our Sheikah Slates and start the adventure!
I may be a bit late writing this review seeing as Breath of the Wild debuted a little more than a month ago but I really wanted to take the time to explore as much of the world as possible and let this new experience in the classic franchise sink in before I put a review together. Now that I have, I'm amazed at how enormous of a journey this is.
Not only is Hyrule a colossal and varied continent filled with treasures just waiting to be unearthed; the gameplay is monumental in itself as it incorporates so many genres and mechanics in such a seamless way. Controlling Link to eventually make it to a monument that you can barely see in the distance can take forever. Along the way, you may meet a few friendly faces, hunt wildlife for food, battle new kinds of enemies, master puzzle-filled shrines to earn rewards and unlock warp points, and discover a wealth of materials, weapons, and supplies that'll help you survive in the wild. It truly is awe-inspiring how it all comes together.
Its magnitude aside, Breath of the Wild's world is presented in a way that manages to make it both immersive and consistently fresh. The visuals are crisp and clean with subtle textures that allow each frame to look like a painting while the soundscape is full of gentle atmospheric music that always complements each moment and satisfying sound effects which bring a sense of accomplishment to every action. Simply put, this iteration of Hyrule is the most gorgeous yet. Even non-fans will find it hard to put down.
Travelling involves running, swimming, gliding, and climbing. Link has limited stamina so he can't perform these actions for too long or else he gets too tired to continue. His stamina is initially similar to an out-of-shape middle-aged man but it can be upgraded. Of course, there are plenty of additional abilities that you'll learn throughout such as armour that allows you to swim up waterfalls like a salmon. Using a combination of these basic moves to reach your destination makes each stretch of traversal a small journey in its own.
Between travelling, you'll occasionally enter shrines that you can master in order to unlock permanent warp points and earn rewards. Doing so usually involves solving puzzles which are unlike anything I've ever seen in any past Zelda adventures. This time around, Link has an array of special moves that allow him to stop time for certain objects, make ice blocks emerge from surfaces, and use a strong magnet to move specific objects around. Also, there are bombs that always manage to come in handy. One of the coolest mechanics will have you stop time for an object then attack it so when time returns, that object will then launch away from where you struck it. Some of these puzzles can be quite mind-bending yet the gadgets manage to remain intuitive from start to finish.
As you can probably already tell, Breath of the Wild is bursting with content. You'll always have main quests to attend to but many locals will send you on side-quests that can be just as rewarding to complete. Discovering and mastering all of the previously mentioned shrines is a task that can take hours upon hours on its own. One of the most rewarding accomplishments is climbing Sheikah Towers in order to uncover the surrounding map using Link's Sheikah Slate (a phone-like tablet that many of the menus are viewed on). On top of all this, there are loads of secrets, a handful of memorable boss fights, and plenty of action sequences that act as refreshing changes of pace. There's so much to see and do and by the end of it all, you'll gain more memories than Link himself.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild may be an incredible game but I did have some issues during my playthrough. For starters, I found travelling to be a mostly rewarding task but it also occasionally turned to tedium. The parts when it did usually involved me being lost and not knowing how to reach a clearly-marked waypoint on the map. Whenever your objective is so close yet you look all around and are unable to figure out a way to scale the mountainsides or find a path through a barrier, it can be quite irritating. Also, climbing is incredibly slow. Watching Link's stamina gradually drain as he inches up a wall is almost sleep-inducing.
Next, the weapons break far too easily. Believe it or not, your bows even break. I was fighting a boss that required firing arrows to take it down and I ended up breaking four bows during the battle. If I didn't have a fifth one on hand, I wouldn't have known what to do. The melee weapons aren't as much of a problem because you basically find them lying around everywhere although having to swap weapons constantly due to them breaking so easily is a significant nuisance throughout the entire adventure.
My only other problem is that I wish there were more instructions before thrusting you into the world. The biggest portion of the gameplay that can easily be overlooked is cooking. Someone near the beginning of the journey mentions cooking in passing so after you unsuccessfully try to cook by throwing some raw meat into a fire, you'll likely just move on without thinking twice about it. However, you can actually cook by performing a sequence of events that you'll just have to look up on the internet. This is just one example but there are many more times when you'll grudgingly use Google to figure out aspects that would otherwise be unclear.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an absolute joy to play as it's an undeniably rewarding adventure set in a deeply immersive world. Although the experience is weighed down by a few minor problems, the overall journey is one that no gamer will soon forget.
- + Incredibly immersive, immense, and gorgeous world to explore
- + Awesome gadgets make puzzles fun
- + Unbelievable amount of content to discover
- - Traversing the land can get rather tedious at times for various reasons
- - Weapons break way too easily
- - Could use a more comprehensive tutorial